In 2005, Washington, along with forty-nine states and six territories, completed an approved Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. Completion of the strategy has enabled the state to obtain funding for conservation initiatives from the State Wildlife Grants (SWG) program, a relatively new funding source established by Congress in 2001. The program represented one of the farthest-reaching national conservation efforts in nearly 30 years. In Washington, this strategy (now called the State Wildlife Action Plan or SWAP), provided an opportunity to compile and organize a wealth of information about species and habitats at risk in the state, with a special focus on those not yet listed as threatened or endangered. A consistent theme of the national planning process has been the need to get ahead of species listings, and direct conservation attention when possible to species before they become imperiled and options for recovery become more limited. Washington's CWCS provides information on conservation threats and needed actions for 186 Species of Greatest Conservation Need as well as a number of habitat types across the state. For access to the 2005 CWCS, please visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/cwcs/2005_cwcs.html.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service requires that State Wildlife Action Plans be updated every 10 years, and Washington's revised plan is due in October of 2015. Our revision must address eight essential elements, summarized as follows:
- Identify the distribution, abundance and status of species of greatest conservation need (SGCN).
- Describe extent and condition of key habitats and community types essential to the conservation of SGCN.
- Identify problems and threats that affect SGCN and their habitats.
- Determine actions to conserve SGCN and their habitats.
- Provide for periodic monitoring of SGCN and their habitats, determining effectiveness of conservation, and adapting to new information or conditions.
- Provide for Review and Revision
- Coordinate the development and implementation with appropriate federal, state, local agencies and tribes.
- Provide for necessary public involvement in the revision, and implementation of the SWAP
Status of the SWAP Revision Process
WDFW is well on its way to completing a draft revised State Wildlife Action Plan. After evaluating the structure and content of the existing 2005 Plan, we determined that many sections need substantial revision or updating. As we prepare these revisions, we have focused on organizing the content of the revised SWAP in a way that will leverage opportunities for implementation. One of the primary uses of the SWAP within WDFW will be to inform and guide agency work plans, research projects, and priorities for conservation planning and action. The draft revised plan will be available for public review in July, 2015. If you'd like to receive notice about the availability of the draft SWAP, please email Lynn Helbrecht, SWAP Coordinator at WDFW. Questions or comments may also be directed to Lynn at (360) 902-2238 or by email at email@example.com.
The SWAP will include a general overview, a comparison of the 2005 CWSC and the revised 2015 SWAP, sections on species and habitats of greatest conservation need, primary threats and conservation actions needed, and monitoring and adaptive management. We will also be addressing climate change impacts throughout the document. See draft Table of Contents.
Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN)
The list of Species of Greatest Conservation Need serves in many ways as the foundation of the SWAP. Because of its central importance to the rest of the document, we are posting preliminary information on the revised SGCN here for review and comment, in advance of the public review draft.
About the SGCN list
The SGCN list includes both animals that have some form of official protection status, and those which may be in decline but are not yet listed as part of either the Federal or State Endangered Species program. One guiding principle of the SWAP is to direct conservation attention to species and habitats before they become imperiled and recovery becomes more difficult and costly.
What it Means to be on the SGCN list
It is important to note that presence on this list does not necessarily mean that conservation resources will be directed towards the animal, but that conservation actions for the species are eligible for State Wildlife Grants funding, and may be more competitive for other grant programs. It also raises the profile of an animal to a wide audience of conservation partners and can encourage others to initiate projects that may benefit the species. Prioritization of the list for WDFW will be based on a number of factors, depending on the specific activity (i.e., funding, research, citizen science, etc.)
The process for revising the SGCN began with a review of the 2005 list to include updates to species conservation status. We also revised the criteria to clarify several elements which had caused some confusion in the previous version, and expanded the process to include a more robust consideration of fish species and invertebrates. Consequently, the list for 2015 looks different than the 2005 list.
Comparison with Previous Lists
There are currently 270 species on the SGCN list, as compared to 186 in 2005. This number does not necessarily reflect a worsening of the overall state of conservation but rather changes in our ranking process and criteria. Of the 270 SGCN, approximately 150 species were also on the 2005 list. One hundred and eighteen species are new to the list this year, including 60 invertebrates, 19 fish, 3 amphibians, 7 reptiles, 11 birds and 18 mammals. Thirty-two species fall off the list from 2005, in many cases because of either improved conservation status or a better understanding of the animal's population status and distribution.
Draft fact sheets for review (organized by taxonomic groups)
These documents include one page fact sheets for each of the species proposed to be a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the 2015 SWAP – with the exception of invertebrates, which will be added soon. The information provided includes a summary of the conservation concern and conservation status, description of distribution and habitat, and an overview of key threats and conservation actions needed.
This is an informal review process and comments can be sent by email directly to Lynn Helbrecht, SWAP Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments can be provided anytime, but will be most useful if submitted by April 30th.